Adventures and Athletics in 2023
As the year comes to a close, it helps to reflect on what I achieved in this part of my life. Being in my 40s now, years are more precious than earlier.
At the start of 2023, I was still recovering from a shoulder dislocation, so I had to limit activities that involved heavy use of the shoulder, I was in decent running shape though.
Skiing in Europe
In February I had a chance to go Skiing in Austria with my wife and later with my mom in France. Neither had the best snow conditions but both were good fun and family time.
Diving in Baja California Sur
Being at the conference in Los Angeles Area I took an opportunity to spend a few days diving in Baja California Sur. Cabo San Lucas offered great scenery but diving was not impressive. La Paz offered cool opportunities to dive with Seals but our favorite were dives in Cabo Pulmo – this protected Marine Park offered some great marine life variety, though the visibility could be better.
MST 100 – 50 Mile Race
In late March I ran my first Trail Ultra Race of the year, 50-mile distance at “Mountains to Sea Trail Run”. This was my 2nd time running this distance at this race and I improved my time by more than one hour. Here are more details on this race and how I ended up running Ultra Marathons to begin with.
Everest Base Camp Trek
In late April with my wife, sister, stepbrother, and a friend, we went to Nepal to track to the Everest base camp. I also planned to summit Lobuche East Peak (6119m) as part of it. This was not a very lucky trip with a lot of us getting sick along the way and not everyone making it to the Base Camp. I also had to abandon my summit attempt due to logistics issues. On the other side, we trekked the route at the same time as many folks looking to attempt Everest Summit were trekking so it was a great opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people. After the mountains, we saw a completely different Nepal by going to Chitwan National Park to see some big wildlife.
Spartan Beast, Fayetteville
In May I finally recovered enough to return to Spartan Races. The Race went well with me beating my previous time on this course by a few minutes and avoiding any shoulder injuries which was quite a concern to mine.
Denver Marathon Relay Race
We had the Percona Live Conference in Denver this year, right after the Denver Marathon took place, it was an excessively good opportunity to pass and we put together several teams representing different databases. With some last-minute runner cancelations, I ended up doing two 10k legs. Running with your friends and colleagues as part of such a large event is a lot of fun. Here is a post-race report with some pictures.
Climbing Toubkal (4167m)
Spartan Trail in Slovakia
After attending a Conference in Serbia with a friend we went to Slovakia for the weekend to run Spartan Trail, Kraliky – I did a 21k competitive race on Saturday and another 10k with a friend on Sunday. Both were lots of fun – I love “destination” races allowing you to meet athletes from around the world. This was my first Spartan Trail Race event and it was not bad, though I still prefer independently organized Trail Races as they each come with their “personality”.
Diving in Cancun
Going to Cancun for a Family Vacation we did some diving – the Ocean dives were nothing particularly interesting, while the guided Dive in Cenote was really interesting, and first such dive for me.
Volcanic 50k Trail Run
Volcanic 50 is a Race going around Mt. St. Helens – Volcano in Washington which had a massive eruption in 1980 that blew off half the mountain. I did a 25k race a year before and was excited to finally do a full run around the mountain. More details are in this blog post.
Spartan Trifecta Weekend, West Virginia
Another first for this year – doing a full “Spartan Trifecta Weekend” which means running 3 races – Beast (21k), Super (10k), and Sprint (5k) during one weekend. More details are in this blog post.
Run the Rut 50k
Run the Rut is a pretty cool race in Big Sky, MT where you get to run to the top of Lone Mountain the highest peak in the area. Even though it is just a 50k race, as it takes place at a high elevation, and has a lot of elevation gain and technical terrain it ended up being quite a grueling race showing me I need to work on my mountain running skills and endurance. Very fun and well-organized race, which I would surely recommend to anyone interested in this kind of run.
OCR World Championships
OCR World Championships was previously independently run OCR race (now acquired by Spartan). It took place in Mammoth Mountain ski resort, at an altitude of over 2500m. I ran 100m, 3k, and 15k distances and it was lots of fun and harder than distance alone would have it. The special thing about this race is the very creative obstacles, a lot harder than you find in Spartan races. It also has mandatory completion, meaning to earn the place you need to complete all obstacles (you can attempt them as many times as you like) otherwise you can consider yourself running non-competitively. This makes it a very different game compared to Spartan where you can strategically take a penalty loop at Obstacles you’re likely to fail. I did all obstacles during the 3k race but could not compete on the 15k distance – some more work to do. This was a truly International event and I had a chance to meet athletes from so many different countries. If the schedule allows I will surely do this race again.
Bull City Race Fest – Half Marathon
Bull City Race Fest is a local event I try to do when I’m in town. Great way to support the local runners community and reconnect with local runners. Not the best time this year, though I did not particularly train for this race.
Spartan Trifecta Championship, Greece
Another destination race and the highlight of the year was the Spartan Trifecta Championship in Sparta, Greece. Amazing experience with the whole small town of Sparta becoming Spartan Race town, so many impressive athletes from around the world, and a very interesting course. Surely would want to do it again at some point. More details are in this blog post.
Spartan Ultra 50k
Yet another Spartan First for me was completing the Spartan 50k Ultra Race in Newberry, SC – great weather and mild terrain made it easier than it probably should have been. I detailed my experience in this blog post.
AWS Re:Invent 5k
This run is hosted as a part of AWS Re:Invent Conference in Las Vegas and I try to do it every year if I’m attending. It is a fan way to connect with runners who are from your “professional network”. Too bad no Percona folks chose to participate this time around.
Mt. Whitney Climb
Another event we planned after AWS Re:Invent, inviting future friends to join was climbing the Mountaineers route at Mt Whitney. This was planned as a guided tour that could serve as an intro to Mountaineering for fit hikers as well as preparation for some of us, climbing Aconcagua early in 2024. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned – conditions higher at the mountain were unsafe for our group and we abandoned Whitney’s accent and went to Thor Peak instead. But do not worry, Mt Whitney, we will be back 🙂
Skiing in Switzerland
As part of our Christmas Family Vacation, we spent a day skiing in Verbier. While it was just one day and it was still early season we had a lot of fun. Fantastic views and lots of terrain to explore – should surely come again for longer some time.
The Last Mile
On the last day of the year I participated in the small local race “The Last Mile” – some 6-mile race set up as 3 loops on the same course (you can also run 2-mile and 6-mile distances). Race also offers free pics, a rarity these days. The small competitive field also allowed me to finish 3rd Male overall – both quite satisfying and with me being just a few seconds away from 3rd place thinking, I probably could have pushed a little faster.
Looking back it was quite an active year. Together with a fair amount of business travel, there were times when I felt like I was overcommitting myself, yet looking back I can see lots of friends made and great memories created. Looking into 2024 and beyond I will continue planning some number of serious adventures, as well as try to opportunistically do destination activities whenever business or family travel takes me.